Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Treasure in the sand

I like to walk along the beach studying the carpet that has been laid before me by the tide: the shells, stones, bits of sea life swirling around in the little whirlpools.

Treasure in the sand

I like to walk along the beach studying the carpet that has been laid before me by the tide: the shells, stones, bits of sea life swirling around in the little whirlpools.

Every now and then, there’s a bright, colored glint, and my heart beats a little faster.

Could it be? Is it really a piece of sea glass?

Usually it’s not. But once in a while, I find a once-sharp shard that has been twirled and smoothed by the polish of the roiling sea.

I used to have a big jar – I don’t know whatever happened to it – to collect Mother Nature’s treasures.

Searching for sea glass and interesting shells along the Ocean City beach with my grandmother is one of my earliest childhood memories. She taught me how to discern the rare from the common.

Years later, I’ve learned sea glass colors are gauged by rarity, from the most common brown, white and Kelly green – likely remnants of old beer bottles – to the most rare oranges and reds. The spectrum also includes hues of yellow, turquoise, pink, cobalt blue, and citron. Also hard to find are soft blue, lime green and amber.

The most coveted of all sea glass -- the orange and red pieces -- probably came from things like Victorian lamps, old railroad lanterns, later Depression glass and automobile brake lights from the days when they were made of glass and not plastic.

Veteran collectors consider red sea glass their “holy grail,” according to Richard LaMotte in his colorful 2004 reference guide called Pure Sea Glass – Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems.

Sea glass often is made into jewelry. One of my favorite pieces is a delicate bracelet of tiny multicolored shards, including a rare red, that my husband gave me a few years ago.

It recently inspired a trend in a home décor. Since I’m such a beach girl, when I decided to nix my old gray professional-grade Calphalon cookware for a dip in the Le Creuset pond and I couldn’t make up my mind between the lovely rainbow of choices for my new pots and pans, I decided to mix and match them in beach glass tones. Now my kitchen is adorned with Caribbean, Coastal and Cobalt with a smattering of Dune.

Good to know I can really go wild and add Flame or Cherry cookware and still stay on theme.

Thanks, Gram.

 

About this blog

Inquirer staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg has covered Philly police, city neighborhoods, Ed Rendell as mayor, the Jersey shore, Atlantic City, Miss America and the psychology of Eagles fans. She moved to Ventnor on July 3, 1995, which makes her a local, but not really.

Inquirer Staff Writer Jacqueline L. Urgo has spent every summer of her life at the Jersey Shore, and has lived there year-round for nearly 30 years, even fulfilling one of her bucket list dreams by once living in a house by the sea.

Since 1990, she has covered the waterfront for The Inquirer — from the Atlantic to the Delaware Bay shore — and some of the mainland in between. Along the way, she amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of this tear-it-down-and-build-it-back-up region, delving into the history and the hype of a place with a lot of unexpected stories to tell.

Reach The Downashore at arosenberg@phillynews.com.

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